Scientific American have published a feature today on the latest research into lucid dreaming, and in particular some of the benefits that may be gained from learning this long-neglected human ability:
Until recently, most experts thought of lucid dreaming as a curiosity—a fun way to act out wishful thinking about flying or meeting celebrities. But recent research has uncovered practical uses for lucid dreams. Chronic nightmare sufferers often find their only source of relief is learning how to take control of their dreams. A study in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics in October 2006 found that those who learned how to increase their frequency of lucid dreams reported fewer awful dreams afterward, although the exact mechanism underlying the relief is unclear. Perhaps becoming aware during a bad dream allows sufferers to distance themselves emotionally from the dream’s content. Some people may even become so adept at lucid dreaming that they are able to keep themselves from imagining frightening disaster scenarios while they are asleep.
...Beyond therapeutic applications, lucid dreaming may also facilitate the learning of complicated movement sequences. In dreams, we are all capable of unusual actions. We can fly, walk through walls or make objects disappear. According to sports psychologist Daniel Erlacher of the University of Heidelberg in Germany, athletes can internalize complex motor sequences, such as those needed in the high jump, more quickly after targeted lucid-dream training.
Regular dreams have been shown to be involved in problem solving, so some researchers have asked if lucid dreams could be useful in focusing the dreamer’s mind. A small study last year at Liverpool John Moores University in England suggests that lucid dreams are good for creative endeavors such as inventing metaphors but not for more rational exercises such as solving brainteasers. The lucid dreamers in the study were instructed to summon a “guru” figure, a wise character to serve as a kind of guide. Indeed, some of the subjects found their dream characters to be surprisingly helpful.
For more on this topic, make sure you grab a copy of Paul and Charla Devereux's book Lucid Dreaming: Accessing Your Inner Virtual Realities (Amazon US or Amazon UK), released by Daily Grail Publishing earlier this year, which covers these topics and also fills you in on how you can take control of your dreams.
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Today I'm proud to announce another new book release from Daily Grail Publishing: Communing with the Gods: Consciousness, Culture and the Dreaming Brain, by Charles D. Laughlin, Ph.D. (available from Amazon US and Amazon UK):
Communing with the Gods presents the most comprehensive account of culture and dreaming available in the anthropology of dreaming, and is written by an anthropologist who is also trained in neuroscience, and who is himself a lucid dreamer and Tibetan Tantric dream yoga practitioner. The book examines the place of dreaming in the experience of peoples from diverse cultures and historical backgrounds. Communing with the Gods touches on shamanism and anthropological theories of dreaming, 'paranormal dreams', lucid dreaming, and what we know about how the brain produces dreams and why.
A comprehensive theory of brain, culture and dreaming is presented that explains the neurobiological functions of sleep and dreaming, the evolution of dreaming, the universality of, and cultural variation in dream elements, and the role of dreaming as a system of intra-psychic communication. This theory is then applied to an examination of dreaming in modern society. The book concludes by discussing how modern dream-work may ameliorate wide-spread alienation, spiritual exhaustion and despair in modern society.
I want to be clear that this is an extremely scholarly work on the neuroanthropology of dreaming - it is not a 'pop read' in any sense. But that is what is exciting about this book: Charles Laughlin is a very well-respected academic with a long history of research into this topic, and in this book - aimed at others in the fields of anthropology, neurobiology and dream research - he deals calmly and rationally with the oft-neglected issues of transpersonal and paranormal dreaming, not to mention the more general fact that modern Western cultures largely ignore dreams, to their detriment, and that it is high time we began to reconnect with this aspect of our lives.
For those who are interested in exploring these topics further, you can use the following links to purchase a copy:
Also, for those admiring the gorgeous cover artwork: it's courtesy of our good friend, visionary artist Adam Scott Miller.
Film-maker Scott Hulan Jones has posted a 13-minute video 'pitch piece' for his documentary Authors of the Impossible, based on the book of the same name by Jeff Kripal. The video is "still in very rough form, but it will give you an idea of the tone and subject matter of the film". It does so by starting off with a number of contemporary paranormal stories and the effect they had upon the individuals involved:
Remember too that I posted an excerpt from the book here on TDG late last year, "Jacques Vallee, Author of the Impossible". Authors of the Impossible (the book) is available to buy from Amazon US and UK.
Incidentally, Scott Hulan Jones is also working on a documentary about the mecca of human potential studies, the Esalen Institute (again, based on a book by Jeff Kripal), and he's recently posted the trailer for that as well:
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The sixth issue (2:4) of the free journal Paranthropology ("anthropological approaches to the paranormal") is now available to download. In the new release:
- "The Anthropology of the Possible: The Anthropologist at Sceptical Enquirer" - Lee Wilson
- "Dreams and Telepathic Communication" - David E. Young
- "Believing the Malagasy: Towards a Methodology for Studying the Paranormal Among Other Normal Things" - Christel Mattheeuws
- "Neo-Shamanism, Psi, and Their Relationship With Transpersonal Psychology" - Mark A. Schroll
- "Mushroom (and Masalai) Madness in Melanesia: Drug Traditions and Cultural Change in Highland Societies in Papua New Guinea" - Henry Dosedla
- "Crop Circles as Psychoid Manifestation: Borrowing Jung's Analysis of UFOs to Approach the Phenomenon of the Crop Circle" - William Rowlandson
- "Eileen Garrett's Haitian Diary" - Eileen J. Garrett
- "What's Wrong With Parapharmanthropology (Apart from the Name)?" - David Luke
And in case you haven't read this great resource before, all of the previous issues remain available to download from the site as well. Don't forget to support the journal with a PayPal donation if you find it interesting/useful...these things don't throw themselves together.
Here's a nice little interview with pioneering researcher in the field of lucid dreaming, Stephen LaBerge, discussing some of the basics of this bizarre phenomenon:
LaBerge's research is just one of many topics discussed in Paul and Charla Devereux's wonderbul book Lucid Dreaming: Accessing Your Inner Virtual Realities (Amazon US or Amazon UK), released earlier this year by Daily Grail Publishing. The book recently received a glowing review from Ryan Hurd at the Dream Studies website - make sure you pick yourself up a copy, and begin taking control of the 'lost' third of your life.
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Here's a fascinating article on the power of belief, framed in cultural beliefs about the night-mare/'old hag' experienced during episodes of sleep paralysis:
They died in their sleep one by one, thousands of miles from home. Their median age was 33. All but one - 116 of the 117 - were healthy men. Immigrants from southeast Asia, you could count the time most had spent on American soil in just months. At the peak of the deaths in the early 1980s, the death rate from this mysterious problem among the Hmong ethnic group was equivalent to the top five natural causes of death for other American men in their age group.
Something was killing Hmong men in their sleep, and no one could figure out what it was. There was no obvious cause of death. None of them had been sick, physically. The men weren't clustered all that tightly, geographically speaking. They were united by dislocation from Laos and a shared culture, but little else. Even House would have been stumped...
Twenty-five years later, Shelley Adler's new book pieces together what happened, drawing on interviews with the Hmong population and analyzing the extant scientific literature. Sleep Paralysis: Night-mares, Nocebos, and the Mind Body Connection is a mind-bending exploration of how what you believe interacts with how your body works. Adler, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, comes to a stunning conclusion: In a sense, the Hmong were killed by their beliefs in the spirit world, even if the mechanism of their deaths was likely an obscure genetic cardiac arrhythmia that is prevalent in southeast Asia.
In short, after reviewing all the evidence, Adler "makes the provocative claim that the Laotian immigrants of the 1980s were in some sense killed by their powerful cultural belief in night spirits."
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"Reality and the Extended Mind" is an (ongoing) online documentary that "explores the scientific evidence of the interconnected nature of consciousness". In Part 1 of 3, embedded below, it explores research into psi phenomena, talking to the likes of Dean Radin, , Robert Jahn, Roger Nelson and Brenda Dunne about presentiment research, the Global Consciousness Project, and numerous other fascinating topics.
"Reality and the Extended Mind" is available freely on YouTube (parts 2 and 3 are on their way), and is a non profit film produced with the simple goal of fulfilling public interest and education. Great to see.
Oh yum. Check out the list of speakers for the 2011 Parapsychology and Consciousness Conference, to be held October 14-16, 2011 at Virginia Beach, VA: Julie Beischel, Dean Radin, Edwin May, Roger Nelson, Carlos Alvarado, Nancy Zingrone, Stephen Braude, Loyd Auerbach, and more. For anybody interested in research into psi, remote viewing, the paranormal and the afterlife, this conference looks to have nearly all bases covered with that line-up:
This October, at the Parapsychology and Consciousness conference, we are bringing together some of the best minds in both fields, many of whom are at the forefront of research. These dedicated men and women are seeking the answers we need. Some study the relationship of psychic experiences to psychological well-being. Others focus on the intersection of psychic phenomena and modern physics. All are working to get an unbiased understanding of what we know out to the people who need it the most. Our speakers think deeply about the scientific underpinnings of psychic functioning and about what these phenomena say about interconnectedness, entanglement and the meaning of life. Come join us for this truly unique conference!
For registration details, go here. I'd be there in a flash if I didn't live half a planet away.
Here's one of the best optical illusions you'll ever find, done as live video:
This video illusion is a direct reconstruction of the famous Checker Shadow Illusion, created by MIT professor Edward H. Adelson in 1995.
The following is a modified excerpt from Paul and Charla Devereux's book Lucid Dreaming: Accessing Your Inner Virtual Realities (Daily Grail Publishing, 2011). Available from Amazon US or Amazon UK and other online bookstores.
The techniques used for inducing out-of-body experiences (OBEs) are essentially similar to lucid dream inductions, but with a different emphasis. The power of place (spatial programming) takes on special importance, and ways of developing a dual awareness can be helpful. Most OBE practitioners agree that when inducing the experience, physical relaxation is most important. A state of relaxed alertness is the ideal to be sought.
There seems to be no special dietary advice for OBE induction, though pioneering 'astral projector' Sylvan Muldoon recommended fasting and a reduction in the taking of liquids on days when induction is being attempted. On the other hand, dream researcher Patricia Garfield found that she had her strongest (and most frightening) OBE when she had been “inordinately stuffed with food”! As far as posture is concerned, there are likewise no universal rules. Muldoon felt that sleeping on one’s back was best, and failing that, the right side. Garfield felt that lying on one’s back or left side best facilitated OBEs. Robert Monroe, one of the most prominent OBE proponents of the last half century, said that the aspiring OBE practitioner should lie with his or her head towards the north, but Garfield argued that it made no difference what direction one slept in. Perhaps the only golden rule is to simply experiment! You have to find what works for you.
Select from the following methods, which have been laid out in an order with developmental exercises first, then actual induction techniques following. Put these in the context of the skills and approaches you have learned from your dream and lucid dream work where appropriate, so you can devise your own elaborations around the core concepts offered here, if you so wish. These exercises and techniques derive from traditional methods as well as suggestions from workers in OBE and lucid dream research. We have also presented some new ones, based on sound principles. Remember that many of the techniques described as being for use at sleep onset can also be used equally well (and often even better) on re-entering sleep after waking up in the morning. As with the lucid dream methods in Chapter 4 of Lucid Dreaming, some of the techniques described here will work well together, others will not and are alternatives. Pick and choose as you wish, remembering that all such exercises often require the investment of time and effort to bring results.